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STOCKTON — Quest Industries, located near Stockton Metropolitan Airport, is making a name for itself in the beverage world. The company received the award for most innovative wine packaging at the Wines and Vines packaging conference in Yountville in August.
The company created labeling for Lodi’s Reed Vineyard using a technology it perfected called mask spray.
Ryan Reed owns Reed Vineyards is also Quest’s chief technology officer. He designs and decorates the bottles himself.
“Quest has been very supportive of this and allowing me the use of their equipment,” said Reed. “I feel very fortunate to be a part of this team and have an owner that’s very supportive of me having an avenue like this.”
According to Reed, mask spraying has been done before, but Quest found a way to do it on a mass scale. In the past, it was a tedious process that required putting a label on a bottle and scratching it off by hand. But Quest found a way to streamline the process without compromising the quality of the design.
“The award was quite an honor because it was our peers,” said Reed. “So when they saw this, they immediately said this is something new that hasn’t been done before.”
Quest has been in business since 2000 and operates two main facilities. Besides the one on Boeing Way in Stockton, the company has another plant in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.
With its proximity to Napa, Sonoma and the burgeoning wine industry in Lodi, Quest believed Stockton was a perfect place to open a plant. The Stockton facility focuses on wines and some liquors, while the Kentucky facility produces packaging for a lot of bourbon companies.
Quest’s portfolio contains some of the biggest names in the beverage industry: Jim Beam, Samuel Adams, Starbucks and Smart Water.
“Having multiple facilities has really helped us as far as just the logistics of it,” said Reed. “A lot of times they ship (glass) in from Europe, sometimes China. Sometimes it makes sense with the port here in San Francisco to ship it in, decorate it then get it filled in the Midwest somewhere.”
Having a big plant located in Stockton also creates jobs for the region. The workforce varies depending on the workload, but Quest usually employs between 30 and 70 people, many of whom have been with the company since it opened.
The Stockton facility runs 24 hours a day, six days a week.
To decorate bottles, Quest creates a film positive of the design, which it turns into a template for mass production. Then the bottles are put on a conveyor belt and go through a spray booth that can spray up to eight colors and on 40-80 bottles per minute, depending on the complexity of the design.
There are also four lehr ovens, or glass kilns, on site. After the bottles are sprayed, they go through the ovens, which can heat up to 1,100 degrees, for two hours. The heat bonds the paint and the glass.
Quest is also able to do multiple processes at the Stockton plant, including screen printing, masking, spray coating, full decal application and label application.
One of Quest’s customers is All American Containers of the Pacific Coast, located in Windsor in Sonoma County. It’s been working with Quest for about six years. All American Containers started working with Quest because of its ability to spray coat bottles, which few West Coast packaging companies can do.
“When a project presented itself that fit their capabilities, we contacted them, did some followup, and that’s generally how these projects come together,” said All American Container’s President Marty Sychowski. “Their opportunity to do things that others can’t do makes them a little unique to all of the bottle decorators.”
According to Reed, one of the things that sets Quest apart from its competitors is its ability to conform to what its clients want, not the other way around.
“A lot of our competitors have to adjust the customer’s idea to their process, so we try to adjust our process to what they’re trying to create as best we can,” said Reed. “There’s always limitations. But we build the process behind the project, and we’re able to do that efficiently.”
The ability to create the bottles efficiently without losing the quality of the design is key, especially when dealing with a large volume.
“Anybody can do a few hundred bottles and do it by hand,” said Reed. “We want to be able to do hundreds of thousands, even millions of bottles, if need be. That’s really our focus. Whatever process we develop, we want to be able to scale it and be efficient with it and offer a good price to our customers.”